Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Charles L. Heyde to Walt Whitman, June 1867

Date: June 1867

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00391

Source: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Ashley Lawson, Elizabeth Lorang, and Beverley Rilett

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June 1867

Walter Whitman

Your letters etc, to your sister are received—and have been duly handed to her—

When I peruse her mother's letters to you, and note the infirmity of the hand, I experience considerable indignation at a daughter, who comparatively well, and having ample time and convenience, so far deliberately continues to neglect her obligation to the same, and in fact exhibiting [no?] emotion.

But it is only a matter of a time, (or pecuniary considerations [how?] much longer I shall tolerate the personal indignities I recieve.

To state the latest: this morning (Sunday) I got up and prepared my own breakfast as usual (and after having went over my garden (until 10 o'clock, I quietly took a chair and sat down to enjoy a perusal of the New York Times. Han occupied another window, in her most negligent manner, peeping through the blinds at church goers; and because I did not look up at every remark and chafed some at the interrogation (which should have ceased) I was attacked with the usual personalities. I threw down the paper indignantly, and seizing my boots and coat retired to the kitchen, and shut the door, to escape further [provocation?] and to prepare to leave the house.

But I was pursued there, and could not escape without forcing my way; but I came out of the encounter with the back of my right hand so badly lacerated by her nails, that I am compelled to bandage it. And this is from your gentle seeming, simple seeming sister, who is so plausible and ductile before strangers—

I procured her a book from the library, last evening, for her Sunday's reading (a novel) and managed all for her comfort as well as I could.

She wound up her most miserable outrageous behaviour by mean inferences toward a poor child of a girl, who now lies allmost at the point of death and whose has been declining for months—And whose brothers, [3?] good, kind hearted men have helped me often (with material aid) in my struggles in this place.

I sent a flower to her, the other day, of a kind she had craved when she was in health, and a pupil under my care—And this was [referred?] to—But it is a mean [illegible] subterfuge, and Han lies—knowingly—She knows how this family has befriended—But Han has no gratitude within herself—and never had any sympathy for me.

I never urged her to marry yet I have ever treated her in purest principle. I have nursed her in sickness, made every thing as agreeable and convenient as possible for her household work—taken half a woman's work upon myself. I have struggled within myself and solely. She is too mean. She is unjust—a liar, [slovenly?] at times, without a parallel, for a woman without children. She is for herself, and herself only.

I meet with much respect from the citizens of this place, and increasing encouragement—I shall exhibit my hand to a person, with whom she once lived. It will scarcely be credited, the persistent, vulgar and provoking meanness I have so long endured.

C. L. Heyde


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